The Gastrokid Cookbook Threatens to Empower Kiddie Foodies

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The kid-critic phenomenon is bound to get even worse now that The Gastrokid Cookbook is out. The authors are Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans, founders of the Gastrokid website as well as fathers, with their wives, of kids between the ages of 3 and 8. In their introduction, they define a gastrokid as “a child of heightened gastronomic awareness, sometimes the progeny of parents who describe themselves as ‘foodies.’” While telling you how to get the kids to eat gnudi, “Tuscan Steak for Toddlers,” and anchovy, caper, and tomato pizza, they offer the following advice: Add sweetness and richness via salt, fat, and acid; buy local, in-season vegetables so they taste better; hide broccoli in a purée; work natural umami into dishes in lieu of fat and sugar (by adding truffle oil to macaroni and cheese, for instance), and, of course, make things better with bacon (“cured pork is the cure”).

Of course there are the entreaties to buy grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken (for chicken nuggets!), and sustainable seafood. One sidebar suggests that you engage the little ones by doing what Nobu Matsuhisa did to get Americans hooked on sushi (e.g., adding big flavors like lime and salty soy). Of course, it’s an age-old parenting trick to introduce kids to something they don’t want by combining it with something they do want— just because the authors drop Nobu’s name doesn’t really make the book’s “gastrokid” theme cohere any better. In fact, because there isn’t all that much food snobbery, the book isn’t as annoying as you’d imagine. Except for the occasional advice such as “promote your kids to the title of Garde Manger” in order to get them involved in cooking. And we probably only find that annoying because the thought of a 6-year-old “Garde Manger” running around a Tribeca loft, outfitted with a Sur La Table smock, makes us feel really bad about how small our kitchen is. But the authors aren’t necessarily preaching to the parents who can afford to keep their kids in Wagyu. One amusing piece of advice: They warn you to be careful about selling the tykes on seared scallops, since they’re pricey and “it can become an expensive family habit.”